Aristocrat, and The Community - Two Philosophical Dialogues

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And I think that I ought now to repeat what your fathers desired to have said to you who are their survivors, when they went out to battle, in case anything happened to them. I will tell you what I heard them say, and what, if they had only speech, they would fain be saying, judging from what they then said. And you must imagine that you hear them saying what I now repeat to you:. Sons, the event proves that your fathers were brave men; for we might have lived dishonourably, but have preferred to die honourably rather than bring you and your children into disgrace, and rather than dishonour our own fathers and forefathers ; considering that life is not life to one who is a dishonour to his race, and that to such a one neither men nor Gods are friendly, either while he is on the earth or after death in the world below.

Remember our words, then, and whatever is your aim let virtue be the condition of the attainment of your aim, and know that without this all possessions and pursuits are dishonourable and evil. For neither does wealth bring honour to the owner, if he be a coward; of such a one the wealth belongs to another, and not to himself. Nor does beauty and strength of body, when dwelling in a base and cowardly man, appear comely, but the reverse of comely, making the possessor more conspicuous, and manifesting forth his cowardice.

And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue ; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us.

Aristocrat, and The Community: Two Philosophical Dialogues

And we shall most likely be defeated, and you will most likely be victors in the contest, if you learn so to order your lives as not to abuse or waste the reputation of your ancestors, knowing that to a man who has any self-respect, nothing is more dishonourable than to be honoured, not for his own sake, but on account of the reputation of his ancestors. The honour of parents is a fair and noble treasure to their posterity, but to have the use of a treasure of wealth and honour, and to leave none to your successors, because you have neither money nor reputation of your own, is alike base and dishonourable.

And if you follow our precepts you will be received by us as friends, when the hour of destiny brings you hither; but if you neglect our words and are disgraced in your lives, no one will welcome or receive you. This is the message which is to be delivered to our children. Amicus Plato—amicus Aristotles —magis amica veritas.

Socrates had only one worthy successor, his old friend Antisthenes, the last of the Great Generation.

Who Really Cares About the Poor?: A Socratic Dialogue

Plato, his most gifted disciple, was soon to prove the least faithful. He betrayed Socrates , just as his uncles had done. These, besides betraying Socrates, had also tried to implicate him in their terrorist acts, but they did not succeed, since he resisted. I know of course that this judgement will seem outrageously harsh, even to those who arc critical of Plato. But if we look upon the Apology and the Crito as Socrates' last will, and if we compare these testaments of his old age with Plato's testament, the Laws , then it is difficult to judge otherwise.

Socrates had been condemned, but his death was not intended by the initiators of the trial. Plato's Laws remedy this lack of intention. Here he elaborates coolly and carefully the theory of inquisition. Free thought, criticism of political institutions, teaching new ideas to the young, attempts to introduce new religious practices or even opinions, are all pronounced capital crimes.

I cannot doubt the fact of Plato's betrayal, nor that his use of Socrates as the main speaker of the Republic was the most successful attempt to implicate him. But it is another question whether this attempt was conscious. Socrates had refused to compromise his personal integrity. Plato , with all his uncompromising canvas-cleaning, was led along a path on which he compromised his integrity with every step he took.

Plato: The Republic | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

He was forced to combat free thought and the pursuit of truth. He was led to defend lying, political miracles, tabooistic superstition, the suppression of truth, and ultimately, brutal violence. The lesson which we thus should learn from Plato is the exact opposite of what he tries to teach us. It is a lesson which must not be forgotten. Excellent as Plato's sociological diagnosis was, his own development proves that the therapy he recommended is worse than the evil he tried to combat. Main article: Euthyphro.

Main article: Apology Plato. Main article: Protagoras dialogue. Main article: The Republic Plato. Main article: Laws dialogue. Disputed [ edit ] Successful people never worry about what others are doing. Alleged source in Plato unknown. It is difficult to summarize in one sentence the political thought of Plato and Aristotle, however, it is possible to have multiple levels of political reading of their work:.

What is the essence of humanity?

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What should be the organization? Who should govern? What is knowledge? Who has the competence, the political art?


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If we meet these two issues, differences between the two philosophers quickly appear. For Plato, if all men are this way tripartite there are inequalities in the distribution of these attributes: some are dominated by the quest for glory, others share their talents home and still others by their ability to reasonably accurate.

For the disciple of Plato, no discrimination in the possession of reason. So the first fundamental difference between Plato and Aristotle is the following: the first thinks the difference as inherent to humanity, the second thinks equality as a consubstantial features of the humanity.

This starting point radiates the rest of their political thought. Who has the competence, political art? Plato distinguishes 3 parts in man needs, heart, knowledge corresponding to three classes in society.


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  • The first are the peasants, artisans, traders who excel in the conduct of domestic life. The second are the warrior class, responsible for ensuring the defense and who want to distinguish themselves by their bravery. The latter are the holders of knowledge, namely philosophers.

    The separation of roles leads in Plato to a hierarchy of social classes. According to him, the philosophers the famous theory of the philosopher-king must lead the city. Warriors defend the people. Where does this hierarchy? It comes from the relationship with knowledge of each class. The people are guided by opinion doxa and illusions and therefore can not rationally decide to conduct the business of the City. Warriors seek glory, Plato recognizes their nobility, but irrationality because they rely primarily on their physical strength.


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